Third Street Farmers Market

Every Saturday morning we do not have to work my husband and I get up around seven and head out to the farmers market in downtown Naples.  It’s a bit hoity-toity, catering to the millionaires and billionaires that live in my town. (As you can see in the picture above they have a bicycle valet, for crying out loud.) Lots of certified organic, artisinal goods, and specialty foods pack the two blocks of Third Street South. We have a very specific ritual and I want to tell you about it.

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Irene and her crepe irons.

The first order of the day is to get breakfast. There is a lovely lady named Irene who makes crepes. She is from Brittany, is a tiny little thing, and is fiercely proud of her homeland. She often talks of the Côte de Granit Rose (pink granite coast) while she creates her heavenly crepes complet. She starts with a homemade buckwheat crepe and puts it on the iron and cracks an egg onto it and then adds butter and mixes it up. She then adds cheese, a slice of ham, and folds it together to cook, adding a touch more butter. Irene brings a small bit of France to us each time we visit. I always say goodbye with a “bonne journée.”

Andrew Daane of Black Tulip coffee.

Andrew Daane of Black Tulip coffee.

TAKE MY MONEY.

TAKE MY MONEY.

While we let our piping hot crepes cool we go to get coffee. We stop at Black Tulip to get a cup of fresh roasted gourmet coffee. It’s a bit pricey, but I swear to you it is the best coffee I have ever tasted. Smooth, chocolately, and hardly needs sugar. The couple who own it, Andrew and Cullen Daane, are so friendly. They always ask how you are, how was your week and then hand you a cup of perfection that was brewed right in front of you. Andrew is looking to find a brick and mortar store front and God help me if he does. I’ll be there every day saying, “Take my money!”

Kosta ready for breakfast.

Kosta ready for breakfast.

 

After we have crepe and coffee in hand we go to sit at a table and eat. Third Street South is packed with restaurants, most with outdoor seating. (This is Southwest Florida, after all.) We usually commandeer a table at Sea Salt and watch the crowds go by. This time of year it is particularly interesting. There are so many people from snowbirds to tourists, locals with their dogs, and families with their kids. Sometimes I see confused people who are pushing their dogs in strollers. Seriously, what is that?

There is also this one dude who has three cockatoos. We always see him wearing the same dirty red Hawaiian shirt and straw hat, three birds on his shoulders walking the two blocks up and down, up and down while people stare and take pictures. I wouldn’t mind him at all if his birds didn’t screech so damn loud. But they do. It almost sounds like a child screaming and it is unnerving while trying to consume a delicious hot crepe and kickass coffee.

The bird dude with his screaming cockatoos.

The bird dude with his screaming cockatoos.

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Tara of Ideas in Bloom

After the crepe is eaten and the coffee is drunk, and we have had our fill people watching we stroll over to see our friends Ingrid and Tara. They own Ideas in Bloom, a flower and plant stall that sells gorgeous fresh cut flowers, potted plants, and fragrant herbs. We adore them.

Floral offerings from Ideas in Bloom

Floral offerings from Ideas in Bloom

Finally, if we have plans for supper and need veggies, we buy them. This weekend  we picked up some avocados and limes to make guacamole and margaritas. We plan to grill out Sunday afternoon and will need sustenance while our chicken cooks.

Buying veggies.

Buying veggies.

It’s a lovely little ritual we look forward to eagerly every week. Woe to us the Saturdays we work when we know it is all going on without us. But absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it makes getting out of bed at seven on a Saturday all the more worthwhile.

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Taking Stock

Checklist and a pencil

As 2016 draws to a close I think a lot of us take this time to reflect upon what we accomplished in the past year.  I know this was a tough year for a lot of folks, especially those of Generation X, who lost a lot of icons this year like David Bowie, Prince, George Michael and Carrie Fisher. We knew Bowie was battling cancer so it wasn’t a true shock when he passed, but the other three? Oy. Having grown up in the Minneapolis area, Prince was especially a knife to the heart. I think of all the amazing things he never got to accomplish because he died too soon.

And then of course was the election. I’m not one to talk about my political opinions in public, but I will say I have never seen such an ugly, divisive battle. It was truly heinous to watch. Although not having broadcast TV spared me from the political ads. I wish I could say I was hopeful but I have real concerns about the future of this country and the world.

However, I think it is wrong to say that 2016 was a dumpster fire of a year. On a personal level I had some really good things happen. I finished the first draft of my third novel. Now in 2017 I will begin the revision process and I hope to have something ready to go for my agent in the next few months.

I also had a revitalization at work. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been a Reference Librarian for nearly fourteen years and working with the public has begun to wear me out. But I found a new project on which to work that has me extremely excited. I’m pitching the idea to my director a week from today. If I have her blessing I’ll share more about it then.

I took an amazing trip this summer with my husband. We saw Austria, Germany, and France, spent time with great friends, and drank lots of good beer. We nearly killed ourselves on the 700 steps inside an ice cave, visited the crypt at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, saw Mozart’s birthplace, took the Nightwatchman’s tour in Rothenberg, drank schnapps, saw the graves of Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine, toured Brittany, and climbed to the top of the world at Mont St. Michel.

Some not so great things happened as well. My Dad had triple bypass surgery while we were on vacation. Thankfully Pop has made a full recovery and is doing very well. Mom is still struggling with her health and there isn’t much hope for improvement. Adjustment has been hard for all of us but especially for her. She gets frustrated because she can’t do everything she used to. I can’t blame her, I would go mad.

And of course the biggest hurt this year was that my book didn’t sell. But I am hopeful and excited about my new novel. Think of it as a mashup between Pride and Prejudice and X Men. I’ve had a ridiculous amount of fun writing it and I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and digging into revisions. I’m going to start tonight with reading the book through in its entirety and make notes as to what needs attention. Then my husband and I will go through, chapter by chapter and fix things. It’s going to be a long process, but ultimately so rewarding. I’m anxious to get back in the game.

I could never blame a year for being bad. The way I see it, I had another trip around the sun and got to do some amazing things. I look forward to the next year with optimism and hope you do too. No matter our opinion of the state of the world we all need to move forward and make the best of our situations however we can. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating 2017. It’s going to be a great year.

V is for…


V
Vendée

France is divided into regions, sort of like we have states, only less autonomous, I believe. The Vendée is where my dear friend Danielle lives in a tiny hamlet called Le Moulin des Landes, which is near the village of La Chapelle Achard. Kosta and I visited in 2013 and stayed with Danielle and her family for a couple of weeks. It was a wonderful experience. Not only do we adore the entire family, but they live in a 180 year old stone farm-house. They keep sheep and chickens and are slowly restoring the place.

That is Pan the sheep with his brother Fangus following behind.

That is Pan the sheep with his brother Fangus following behind.

The Vendée is on the Atlantic coast and Danielle and her family live just a fifteen minute ride from Les Sables-d’Olonne, which is a beautiful seaside town with spectacular beaches. I am very excited because we are going back there this summer for a week to see the family and hang out before we go on to Bavaria and Austria. I am hoping we can plan a side trip up north to Mont St. Michel in Brittany. It’s a few hours drive, but I’ve been dying to see it.

Les Sables d'Olonnes

The beach at Les Sables d’Olonnes